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Join Yusuf on his journey from a rough life on the streets of Nairobi. He's reaching for his dreams using his promising hip hop talent.
Join Yusuf on his journey from a rough life on the streets of Nairobi. He's reaching for his dreams using his promising hip hop talent.
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38 backers pledged $3,255 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Yusuf's Debut Album: A street kid's dream through hip hop project video thumbnail
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$3,255

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It's more than a record album; it's a story.

Follow Yusuf on his journey from the streets of Nairobi as he tells his story through hip hop.  He has a lot to say to the world from growing up as a street kid in Tanzania and Nairobi.  By sharing his story, Yusuf wants to encourage other street kids and anyone else going through hard times to keep chasing their dreams.  All he's asking is for you to join him along the way.

About the album:

The debut album will consist of about 10 to 12 hip hop tracks produced both in Kenya and the United States.  There's a wide range of styles for tracks we're working on from hardcore hip hop, more sentimental and minimal tracks bordering the spoken-word genre, to real club bangers.  We're still experimenting with other styles as well and we're considering a few guest featurings.

There are 2 notebooks full of songs Yusuf has written down.  These are recently composed lyrics he writes down everyday. He also has lines he thought of and kept in his heart while on the streets because he didn't have anything to write with.  He's got songs about life on the street, the real hardships of poverty, a friend he lost to AIDS, other street kids, life in Nairobi (or NaiRobbery as he calls it), and even a love song somewhere in that notebook.

How the funds will be used.

  • The pledged funds will be used to record, mix and master the tracks on the album as we work with established producers in Kenya and the United States.  We can't drop any names yet, but we're pretty excited.
  • Each track in Kenya will cost around $150+.  With 6 to 8 tracks, the total will be at least $900 to $1200.
  • Each American produced track will cost $450 at least.  4 tracks will total $1800 at the minimum
  • The total is projected to be $3000 for the finished album.  We didn't factor in transportation costs and other incidental costs such as burned CDs for practice, pens, notebooks, lunch, and other things to create music.

And if we get more pledged than our goal?

If we go over our goal thanks to your generous support, then we plan on spending it on the other aspects of the finished product.  We are looking at album promotions, album branding (photoshoots and such), a domestic tour, a nice music video or 2, and work on recording additional songs.  Those are just a few things in mind right now.

A glimpse of Yusuf's future.

Yusuf wishes to return to school.  He hopes his music can not only be used as a means to return to school, but also to use education to further enrich his art.  He enjoys studying, but he never had the spare time or the means to hit the books.  He has an interest in world languages and cultures.  This can be attributed to the Swahili Coast's long history of multiculturalism carried by the monsoon winds along the Indian Ocean.  He knows a bit of Arabic and Hindi/Urdu.

Yusuf could resume his education in either Kenya or Tanzania and then continue in the other country because of the ties East African Community nations share.  Of course, he could also study for the SATs in the future and apply for an American or other foreign university as well.  There's a whole world of possibilities open to him now with your support.

In the end.

In the end, you have nothing to lose if you pledge to this project and we don't reach our goal.  You won't be charged on your credit card then.  If we do succeed, you'll know that you will be helping Yusuf with a major step towards his dreams.  He's putting a lot of heart and passion into his music.  

Thank you for joining us along this journey.

About the video:

The video was recorded in Waithaka, which is on the outskirts of Nairobi out west.  It's a bit more rural than the rest of Nairobi's crowds and traffic.  It was recorded with a local guy with a small shop (it's actually in one of the scenes) because a fancy crew was too expensive.

The 2 beats featured in the video are rough demos we are planning to use on the album.  Yusuf recorded a few verses on the second beat.  They were produced by Saint P of Homeboyz Entertainment.

Unfortunately, we were not able to go and film the streets where Yusuf stayed this time.  Special arrangements have to be made and precautions taken for our security, especially with a camera.  It would also have been dangerous for the street kids we would have met because our presence could have drawn too much negative attention towards them.  All it takes is one rival street gang to be jealous for trouble to start.  They could be marked as a gang with money after being seen with a foreigner and a camera man.

Meet the team:

Yusuf Stephen (aka Yusuf Wakitaa) is from Tanzania.  He grew up on the streets of Dar es Salaam and has also made is way to Arusha and Zanzibar.  He is 19 years old, but he can't remember what day in January he was born.  A chance meeting with a passerby from Kenya resulted in a business card and inspiration.  After saving up as much as he could, he crossed international borders as a street kid from Tanzania to Kenya to make a future for himself.  He arrived in Nairobi, the commercial and entertainment hub of East Africa, with nothing besides his dreams and a small bag over his shoulder.  After a major setback as a victim of theft, he was stranded on the streets of Nairobi until he met Jason and Jesse.  He continues to chase his dreams today.

Jason Oh met Yusuf while volunteering on the streets of Nairobi with Jesse on a program focused on street children.  After that meeting, Jason decided something had to be done.  He works on the "other side" of things to allow Yusuf to focus on his art, rhymes, and flow.  Jason is a Public Health Studies student at Johns Hopkins University.

Jesse Kangethe is Yusuf's good friend and manager. Jesse is a volunteer liason at the NGO Jason was volunteering with.  They met Yusuf together while working on a program reaching out to street children in the city of Nairobi.  Jesse is also an international footballer.  He has represented Kenya at the U-20 level several times.  The team brought home the bronze medal at the 2010 International Friendlies in Egypt.

For more information:

You can learn more about street kids in Nairobi from this excellent piece with interviews and photos. http://brendanbannon.com/wp/?p=554

If you have any questions, feel free to reach us at maisha.entertainment@gmail.com

We're on Facebook! www.facebook.com/MaishaEntertainment

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Free digital copy of the album in high quality 320kbs mp3 format.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    Early exclusive access: Free digital copy of the album at least 3 days before official release in high quality 320kbs mp3 format.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    A handwritten postcard from Kenya! Yusuf will personally write you a postcard saying thank you. We'll take care of postage too. All of the above is also included.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Lyrics sheets both handwritten and signed. Yusuf will write out the lyrics on nice paper and sign them. Limited supply to minimize carpal tunnel syndrome risk. All of the above is also included.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Visit Kenya... sort of. Send us a picture, drawing, or painting of yourself and we'll take a photo of it around town with Yusuf. Now you can show off and tell your friends about your last trip to Nairobi! All of the above is also included.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    2 backstage passes to a future concert. Meet and greet Yusuf with a friend. All of the above is also included.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Personal Skype session with Yusuf. You can have a nice chat, get Swahili lessons, give English lessons, partake in a digital jam session, or even have a private solo concert. All of the above is also included.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    A private house concert in the future. Some day in the future, Yusuf will perform for you and your friends at your home at a party or function. We can't guarantee when, but hopefully it will be during a tour abroad. Can't wait? Come out to East Africa! All of the above is also included.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Choose a topic for a song and Yusuf will write it. It can be about a favorite thing, a social issue, a certain type of emotion/feeling, an event, an abstract motif, or even about yourself. Just discuss it with Yusuf over Skype. All of the above is also included.

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    Executive Producer credit: We'll write your name on the album liner notes as the Executive Producer. Pat yourself on the back. You're a record exec now! All of the above is also included.

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Funding period

- (22 days)